I. Enmity between the Woman and the Serpent
In his profound Marian Encyclical Redemptoris Mater of March 25, 1987, the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II stated:
In the salvific design of the Most Holy Trinity, the mystery of the Incarnation constitutes the superabundant fulfillment of the promise made by God to man after original sin, after that first sin whose effects oppress the whole earthly history of man (cf. Gen. 3:15). And so, there comes into the world a Son, “the seed of the woman” who will crush the evil of sin in its very origins: “he will crush the head of the serpent.” As we see from the words of the Protogospel, the victory of the woman’s Son will not take place without a hard struggle, a struggle that is to extend through the whole of human history. The “enmity,” foretold at the beginning, is confirmed in the Apocalypse (the book of the final events of the Church and the world), in which there recurs the sign of the “woman,” this time “clothed with the sun” (Rev. 12:1).
Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, is placed at the very center of that enmity, that struggle which accompanies the history of humanity on earth and the history of salvation itself. In this central place, she who belongs to the “weak and poor of the Lord” bears in herself, like no other member of the human race, that “glory of grace” which the Father “has bestowed on us in his beloved Son,” and this grace determines the extraordinary greatness and beauty of her whole being. Mary thus remains before God, and also before the whole of humanity, as the unchangeable and inviolable sign of God’s election, spoken of in Paul’s letter: “in Christ … he chose us…before the foundation of the world, … he destined us … to be his sons” (Eph. 1:4, 5). This election is more powerful than any experience of evil and sin, than all that “enmity” which marks the history of man. In this history Mary remains a sign of sure hope. …
Thanks to this special bond linking the Mother of Christ with the Church, there is further clarified the mystery of that “woman” who, from the first chapters of the Book of Genesis until the Book of Revelation, accompanies the revelation of God’s salvific plan for humanity. For Mary, present in the Church as the Mother of the Redeemer, takes part, as a mother, in that “monumental struggle; against the powers of darkness” which continues throughout human history (1).
It seems to me that the words received by Ida Peerdeman from March 25, 1945, to May 31, 1959, must be read and understood in this context traced out by the Pope. In fact, I believe that all of the major Marian apparitions recognized as worthy of credence by the Church since that of Guadalupe in 1531 reflect the struggle between the Woman and the serpent.
Let us begin with Guadalupe. The extraordinary image of the Virgin “not made by human hands” shows her standing on a black crescent moon, identified by some scholars as the serpent god of the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl, to whom millions of human sacrifices were made yearly. Helen Behrens (2), a noted Guadalupan expert offers this interpretation of the image and the name “Guadalupe”:
Neither Bishop Zumárraga nor any other Spanish prelate has been able to explain why (Our Lady) wished her image to be de Guadalupe. The reason must be that she did not say the phrase at all. She spoke in the native language, and the combination of words which she used must have sounded like de Guadalupe to the Spaniards. The Aztec “te coatlaxopeuh” has a similar sound. “Te” means “stone”; “coa” means “serpent,” “tla” is the noun ending which can be interpreted as “the,” while “xopeuh” means “crush” or “stamp out.” Her precious image will thus be known (by the name of) the Entirely Perfect Virgin, Holy Mary, and it will crush, stamp out, abolish or eradicate the stone serpent (3).
It is arguable that the “Woman who crushes the stone serpent” brought about the greatest movement of evangelization in the history of the Church. Within seven years of the apparition to St. Juan Diego eight million natives asked for Baptism, virtually wiping out one of the most cruel and diabolic cults which the world has known.
Another very important iconic reproduction of the “Woman who crushes the serpent” was manifested to St. Catherine Labouré in the vision which she had on November 27, 1830, in the chapel of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul on the Rue du Bac in Paris. There she beheld the image of Our Lady familiar to us as Our Lady of Grace or of the miraculous medal with her foot on the head of the serpent. Strangely none of the written accounts by Catherine mention the serpent, but as Fr. Joseph I. Dirvin, C.M. writes:
That Catherine transmitted the details of the serpent and the stars to her director, at least by word of mouth, is morally certain, for she approved the medal which bore both details from the first. Besides, in 1836, when the artist LeCerf was painting canvases of the apparitions, she described the serpent to her director as “green with yellow spots” – a rather fearsome serpent, and one, certainly, to offend the sensibilities of an artist (4)!
This image of Our Lady, reproduced literally millions of times in medals, statues and pictures has become imprinted in the souls of generations of Catholics calling to mind at once the prophecy of Genesis 3:15 and the image of the “Woman Clothed with the Sun” in the twelfth chapter of the Book of Revelation.
In the July 1917 apparition of Our Lady at Fatima, it is not an image of a serpent or of a dragon which the shepherd children see, but rather a terrifying vision of the kingdom of the prince of darkness. Let us listen to Lúcia’s narration of the event:
“Sacrifice yourselves for sinners, and say many times to Jesus, especially whenever you make some sacrifice:
‘O Jesus, it is for love of You, for the conversion of sinners, and in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.’”
As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw, as it were, a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke, now falling back on every side like sparks in the fire, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly:
“You have seen Hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace” (5).
Here let it be noted that it is through the instrumentality of Mary’s hands that the children see the vision; she has the power to reveal the horrors of hell because hell is subject to her.
The messages communicated to Ida Peerdeman are apocalyptic, but of a different genre, one more similar to the third secret of Fatima. Throughout the scenes, especially those from 1945 to 1950, spiritual battle becomes a kind of constant background. Our Lady says to Ida: “This is the spiritual battle that is being carried on all over the world. It is much worse than the actual wars now being waged, because it is undermining mankind” (6). On another occasion Ida sees St. Peter’s while Our Lady stretches her hand over it and says “This must and shall be protected. The other spirit is infiltrating with such dreadful success” (7). Yet again she says: “Pass this on: Christendom, you do not know the great danger you are in. There is a spirit that is out to undermine you, but … (and her hands make a sign of blessing), the Victory is ours” (8). The kingdom of darkness is very clearly alluded to in the prayer given by Our Lady: “Let the Holy Spirit live in the hearts of all nations, that they may be preserved from degeneration, disaster and war.” (9).
The spiritual battle which Ida sees is much more insidious than material warfare. Our Lady draws the matter out for her on March 28, 1951:
Do you know, child, what kind of period this is? It is a time such as the world has not experienced in centuries – such falling away from the Faith! … in these modern times, in this modern world, which knows so well how to act promptly and swiftly in material affairs, it is equally necessary, in spiritual matters, to act swiftly and without delay. …
Rome still thinks itself to stand securely; it is not conscious of how it is being undermined! Do you realize that theology must yield to the interests of my Son? …
Rome must be conscious of its role in these days. Does Rome know who the enemy is that is lying in wait for her, like a serpent stealthily making its way in the world? I am not referring to Communism alone; there are yet other “prophets” to come, false prophets (10)!
What develops as the scenes unfold is that theologians have a special role to play in this spiritual battle because the era of true peace in the Church and in the world is dependent upon the recognition of the unique role which God has given to Mary. Now that the major truths about her person – her Immaculate Conception, her Divine Motherhood, her Perpetual Virginity and her Glorious Assumption – have been solemnly professed by the Church, it is time to recognize the altogether unique role which Mary has played and is playing as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix of all graces and Advocate. So speaks Our Lady to Ida:
My purpose and my commission to you is none other than to urge the Church, the theologians, to wage this battle. For the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit will to send the Lady, chosen to bear the Redeemer into this world, as Co-redemptrix and Advocate. I have said, “This time is our time.” By this I mean the following: The world is caught up in degeneration and superficiality. It is at a loss. Therefore, the Father sends me to be the Advocate, to implore the Holy Spirit to come. …
In the sufferings, both spiritual and bodily, the Lady, the Mother has shared. She has always gone before. As soon as the Father had elected her, she was the Co-redemptrix with the Redeemer, who came into the world as the Man-God. Tell that to your theologians.
I know well, the struggle will be hard and bitter (and then the Lady smiles to herself and seems to gaze into the far distance), but the outcome is already assured (11).
Let us listen now to the words of Our Lady to Ida on August 15, 1951: “I have crushed the snake with my foot. I have become united to my Son as I had always been united with Him. This is ‘the dogma’ that has gone before in the history of the Church” (12). Indeed, Our Lady has crushed the serpent; the grace of the redemption has been poured out, but it must still be appropriated. Indeed the victory is assured, but its timing will depend on your part and mine – and I can find no explanation for the incredible opposition and even hostility to the proposed dogma except that this is the serpent’s way of stalling for more time. The opposition itself stems from before the time of the Second Vatican Council and was reflected in the debates on the council floor and behind the scenes. As the Servant of God John Paul II put it very delicately and diplomatically in his Marian catechesis of December 13, 1995:
During the Council sessions, many Fathers wished further to enrich Marian doctrine with other statements on Mary’s role in the work of salvation. The particular context in which Vatican II’s Mariological debate took place did not allow these wishes, although substantial and widespread, to be accepted, but the Council’s entire discussion of Mary remains vigorous and balanced, and the topics themselves, though not fully defined, received significant attention in the overall treatment (13).
The point is that the council did not and could not close the door on further precisions on Our Lady’s role in the work of our redemption even if many commentators today would have us believe that. The ongoing controversy about this which Our Lady frequently indicated to Ida seems to be echoed by what she said to Sister Agnes Sasagawa on October 13, 1973: “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against other bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres” (14).
My point is simply that Marian doctrine is never marginal or a luxury in the Church. The recognition of the role that the Lord has given to Mary for our benefit is bound to have many important ramifications. How befittingly Ida heard Our Lady apostrophize on the Feast of the Assumption in 1951:
Rome, do you know, how completely everything is being undermined? The years will speed by unheeded, but the longer you wait, the more the Faith will decline; the greater the number of years, the greater the apostasy (15).
II. Mediatrix of All Graces
In the course of the second millennium the Catholic Church has come to an ever clearer understanding of the role of Mary as the distributor of all of the graces of the redemption in which she had an active role. This has been affirmed by all of the popes of modern times, even though, because of complex maneuvering behind the scenes and on the council floor, the Second Vatican Council effectively refused to pronounce on this matter. The council did effectively recognize that Mary may rightly be called Mediatrix, but abstained from stating that she is by the express will of God “Mediatrix of All Graces” (16). Hence the following statement of Pope Benedict XVI in his homily of May 11, 2007, at the canonization of Frei Antônio de Sant’Ana Galvão at Campo de Marte, São Paulo, Brazil, complements and completes the teaching of the council and may be safely taken as representative of what his predecessors have been teaching for the past 150 years:
Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, stands particularly close to us at this moment. Frei Galvão prophetically affirmed the truth of the Immaculate Conception. She, the Tota Pulchra, the Virgin Most Pure, who conceived in her womb the Redeemer of mankind and was preserved from all stain of original sin, wishes to be the definitive seal of our encounter with God our Savior. There is no fruit of grace in the history of salvation that does not have as its necessary instrument the mediation of Our Lady. …
My dear friends, allow me to finish by recalling the Vigil of Prayer at Marienfeld in Germany: in the presence of a multitude of young people, I spoke of the saints of our epoch as true reformers. And I added: “Only from the saints, only from God does true revolution come, the definitive way to change the world” (Homily, August 20, 2005). This is the invitation that I address to all of you today, from the first to the last, in this Eucharist without frontiers. God said: “Be holy, as I am holy” (Lev. 11:44). Let us give thanks to God the Father, to God the Son, to God the Holy Spirit from whom, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, we receive all the blessings of heaven; from whom we receive this gift which, together with faith, is the greatest grace that can be bestowed upon a creature: the firm desire to attain the fullness of charity, in the conviction that holiness is not only possible but also necessary for every person in his or her own state of life, so as to reveal to the world the true face of Christ, our friend! Amen (17)!
Probably the most striking representation of this Catholic belief is to be found in the image of Our Lady of the miraculous medal as she appeared to St. Catherine Labouré on November 27, 1830.
On each of her fingers were three precious stones of differing size and from them came rays of light which fell upon the sphere at her feet. But from some of these stones no rays at all were cast.
Just as I was thinking of this – continues Catherine – the Blessed Virgin turned her eyes to me, and a Voice spoke within me: “The sphere which you see is the world; it includes France and every inhabitant of the earth. The rays of light which come from my hands are the graces which I shower on those who ask for them.”
Our Lady gave me to understand with what generosity and great joy she dispensed grace. “But,” she said, “there are graces for which I am not asked, and it is for this reason that some of the stones you see are not sending forth any rays of light” (18).
In her Third Memoir, finished on August 31, 1941, Lúcia offers us this profound insight into the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary:
As I have already written in the second account, Our Lady told me on June 13th, 1917, that she would never forsake me, and that her Immaculate Heart would be my refuge and the way that would lead me to God. As she spoke these words, she opened her hands, and from them streamed a light that penetrated to our inmost hearts. I think that, on that day (of the second apparition), the main purpose of this light was to infuse within us a special knowledge and love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary, just as on the other two occasions it was intended to do, as it seems to me, with regard to God and the mystery of the most Holy Trinity.
From that day onwards, our hearts were filled with a more ardent love for the Immaculate Heart of Mary. From time to time, Jacinta said to me: “The Lady said that her Immaculate Heart will be your refuge and the way that will lead you to God. Don’t you love that? Her Heart is so good! How I love it!” (19)
Here the images of Our Lady’s mediation are quite striking. Her Heart will be Lucia’s “refuge and the way that will lead her to God.” Secondly there is the image of Mary’s hands opening and the light streaming from them. This is reminiscent of the vision of St. Catherine Labouré, but here there is the understanding that through Mary’s mediation one can receive special insights into the Most Blessed Trinity as well as into her own Immaculate Heart.
Lúcia goes on to report to us some of the extraordinary insights of her little cousin Jacinta:
You will remain here to make known that God wishes to establish in the world devotion to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. When you are to say this, don’t go and hide. Tell everybody that God grants us graces through the Immaculate Heart of Mary; that people are to ask her for them; and that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side. Tell them also to pray to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for peace, since God has entrusted it to her. If I could only put into the hearts of all, the fire that is burning within my own heart, and that makes me love the Hearts of Jesus and Mary so much!” (20)
Here we may note Bl. Jacinta’s firm conviction about the mediation of the Immaculate Heart of Mary with God and “that the Heart of Jesus wants the Immaculate Heart of Mary to be venerated at his side,” a confirmation that the recognition of Mary’s unique coredemptive and mediatorial role is the will of Jesus.
Now it is very interesting that the general posture of Our Lady in the image that she instructed Ida to have painted and that Ida herself had seen on May 31, 1951, is very similar to that of the image found on the miraculous medal. There are a number of differences, however. One is that Our Lady stands before the cross, indicating her collaboration in the work of our redemption. Another is that the globe of the world is surrounded by flocks of sheep. Let us listen to Ida’s description.
Then the Lady speaks to me again, “My child, imprint this image deeply on your mind and transmit it correctly: The flocks of sheep represent the peoples of the world who will not find rest until they achieve content and fix their eyes on the Cross, the center of this world.”
“Now look at my hands and relate what you see.” Now I see in the palms of her hands what appear to be wounds already healed and from these, rays of light stream out, three from each hand, and diffuse themselves upon the sheep.
Smiling, the Lady adds, “These three rays are grace, redemption, and peace. Through the grace of my Lord and Master, and for the love of mankind, the Father sent His only-begotten Son as Redeemer for the world. Now they both wish to send the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth, Who alone can bring peace. Hence: ‘Grace, redemption and peace.’ The Father and the Son wish, as at this very time, to send Mary, ‘the Lady of All Nations’ as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. – Now I have given you a clear and lucid explanation of the picture. There is nothing more to be said (21).
What is particularly striking here is that Mary’s hands have the stigmata imprinted on them. I believe that this is an entirely new feature in Marian iconography, but entirely justified pictorially. After Jesus, the God-man, no human creature – including all of the stigmatics of history – have shared more intimately in the saving Passion of Jesus than his mother. Let us listen to the words of the Servant of God Pope John Paul II in his Marian catechesis of April 9, 1997, which faithfully echoes the teachings of his predecessors on this important point:
Applied to Mary, the term “cooperator” acquires a specific meaning. The collaboration of Christians in salvation takes place after the Calvary event, whose fruits they endeavor to spread by prayer and sacrifice. Mary, instead, cooperated during the event itself and in the role of mother; thus her cooperation embraces the whole of Christ’s saving work. She alone was associated in this way with the redemptive sacrifice that merited the salvation of all mankind. In union with Christ and in submission to him, she collaborated in obtaining the grace of salvation for all humanity (22).
Iconographically, then, we have here a remarkable indication that Mary’s mediation of grace, redemption and peace flows from her role as Co-redemptrix: precisely from her wounded hands pour forth the graces of redemption. She would repeat this message again to Ida on July 2, 1951, with further explanations:
Now look hard at my hands. From them emanate rays of grace, redemption and peace. The rays shine upon all peoples, upon all sheep. Among these peoples there are many of good will. To be of good will means to keep the first and great commandment. The first and great commandment is LOVE. He who loves, will honor his Lord and Creator in His creation. He who loves, will do nothing that would dishonor his neighbor. That is what this world is lacking: Love of God – Love of Neighbor (23).
Our Lady indicates that “the rays shine upon all peoples, upon all sheep. Among these peoples there are many of good will.” Quite evidently she is saying that the graces which she mediates are not only for Catholics, not even just for Christians, but for all people of good will. All peoples need to know that the grace of redemption comes from Jesus through Mary. The more explicit this knowledge is, the more all peoples can benefit from it. The call for the dogma is also a call for the “new evangelization.”
III. The Advocate for All Humanity with Jesus and the Holy Spirit
In the wonderfully rich homily which our Holy Father gave in Guayaquil, Ecuador, on January 31, 1985, he said that “Mary’s role as Co-redemptrix did not cease with the glorification of her Son” and then he went on to explain that
The Church believes that the Most Holy Virgin, assumed into heaven, is near Christ, forever living to make intercession for us (cf. Heb. 7:25), and that to her Son’s divine mediation there is joined the incessant supplication of his Mother on behalf of men, her sons and daughters.
Mary is the dawn, and the dawn unfailingly announces the arrival of the sun.
Therefore I recommend to all of you, brothers and sisters of Ecuador, that you honor with profound love and have recourse to the Mother of Christ and the Church the “all-powerful suppliant” (omnipotentia supplex), that she will bring us ever closer to Christ, her Son and our Mediator (24).
There are at least two salient points to be drawn from this doctrinally rich statement. The first is that Mary participates in the priestly intercession of the glorified Christ who is now seated at the right hand of the Father where he ceaselessly intercedes for us. In union with Jesus (cf. Heb. 7:25; 1 Jn. 2:1) and the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn. 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7) (25) she, too, is our Advocate. The second is a further precision of Mary’s intercessory role: she is omnipotentia supplex, an almost untranslatable phrase which indicates that she is at the same time both a suppliant as well as all-powerful. Pope John Paul II used this paradoxical expression to describe Our Lady’s intercession on a number of occasions (26). Perhaps one of the best explanations of this terminology comes from St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori:
Since the Mother, then, should have the same power as the Son, Jesus, who is omnipotent, has also made Mary omnipotent; though, of course, it is always true that, while Jesus is omnipotent by nature, Mary is omnipotent only by grace. But that she is so appears from the fact that, whatever the Mother asks for, the Son never denies her. … Mary, then, is called omnipotent in the sense in which such a term can be applied to a creature who is incapable of a divine attribute; that is, she is omnipotent because she obtains by her prayers whatever she wishes (27).
As Mary is Co-redemptrix and Mediatrix of all Graces, she is also our most perfect human Advocate before the Blessed Trinity. This title has profound roots in the Catholic tradition going all the way back to St. Irenaeus in the second century. It occurs in the Hail, Holy Queen where we pray: “turn then, most gracious Advocate, thine eyes of mercy towards us.” The word Advocate is predicated of Mary literally hundreds of times in the Papal Magisterium and reference to her intercession is a constantly recurring theme. Indeed, the great Marian document of the Second Vatican Council readily recognized that Mary is rightly invoked as Advocate (28). In his great Marian Encyclical Redemptoris Mater John Paul gave a brilliant analysis of how Mary’s role as Advocate is intimately related to her role as Mediatrix:
At Cana in Galilee there is shown only one concrete aspect of human need, apparently a small one of little importance (They have no wine). But it has a symbolic value: this coming to the aid of human needs means, at the same time, bringing those needs within the radius of Christ’s messianic mission and salvific power. Thus there is a mediation: Mary places herself between her Son and mankind in the reality of their wants, needs and sufferings. She puts herself “in the middle,” that is to say she acts as a mediatrix not as an outsider, but in her position as mother. She knows that as such she can point out to her Son the needs of mankind, and in fact, she “has the right” to do so. Her mediation is thus in the nature of intercession: Mary “intercedes” for mankind. And that is not all. As a mother she also wishes the messianic power of her Son to be manifested, that salvific power of his which is meant to help man in his misfortunes, to free him from the evil which in various forms and degrees weighs heavily upon his life (29).
On May 31, 1955, Our Lady gave Ida what was to be the clearest description of her role as Advocate:
You will have to endure a great deal as yet in this century. You, nations of this era, do realize that you are under the protection of “the Lady of All Nations”; call upon her as the Advocate; ask her to stave off all disasters; ask her to banish degeneration from this world.
Degeneration breeds disaster. Degeneration generates war. You should ask by means of my prayer to eject it from this world; do you not know what great value and power this prayer boasts before God? He will grant the requests of his Mother, when she comes to plead for you as Advocate (30).
In concluding his important, but unfortunately largely forgotten Encyclical Letter of May 8, 1928, Miserentissimus Redemptor, Pope Pius XI formulated this prayer:
May the most gracious Mother of God, who gave us Jesus as Redeemer, who reared Him, and at the foot of the Cross offered Him as Victim, who by her mysterious union with Christ and by her matchless grace rightly merits the name Reparatrix, deign to smile upon our wishes and our undertakings. Trusting in her intercession with Christ our Lord, who though sole Mediator between God and man (1 Tim. 2:5), wished however to make His Mother the advocate for sinners and the dispenser and mediatrix of His grace, from the bottom of our heart as a token of heavenly favor and of our fatherly solicitude we heartily impart to you and to all the faithful entrusted to your care our apostolic benediction (31).
If one reads this text with care, one will discover that Pius XI effectively identifies the Mother of God as Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate. One of the keys is to understand that the Latin word Reparatrix which the Pope used is an equivalent of the word Co-redemptrix. By offering his death for us on the Cross, Jesus “repaired” our relationship with the Father; he made “reparation” to him. As the “New Eve” at the side of the “New Adam,” Mary was united with him in this act of “reparation” in a way that was secondary, subordinate and dependent on him, but at the same time altogether unique. Hence she may be rightly called Reparatrix or Co-redemptrix (32). Secondly, the Pope pointed out that while Jesus, the God-man, is the sole Mediator between the Creator and his creatures, he wished to make His Mother “the dispenser and mediatrix of His grace.” Thirdly, the Pope also stated that the Lord wanted to make His Mother the “advocate for sinners.”
Linking together the titles Co-redemptrix, Mediatrix and Advocate enables us to grasp Mary’s role in our salvation in a logical and coherent way: it is precisely because of Our Lady’s unique and intimate participation in the work of the redemption as Co-redemptrix that she is able to be the distributor (Mediatrix) of all graces and the great intercessor (Advocate) for her children after Jesus himself and the Holy Spirit. Indeed, each of these terms brings out another facet of how Mary shares in an unparalleled way in the unique priestly mediation of Jesus: she cooperates in the work of our redemption; she distributes the graces of the redemption; she lives to make intercession for us.
These three titles represent the Church’s ever deepening grasp of the unique role which the Mother of God plays in the work of the redemption, not only in the past, but here and now. The titles are not new, much less is their content new. The role of Mary in the work of our redemption has been the central question in Mariology for the past century and because, as the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council rightly stated, “Mary, having intimately entered into salvation history, somehow brings together in herself and reverberates the most important doctrines of the faith” (33). Therefore, far from being a side issue, I believe that this is the most important question facing theology today. Thus far the great majority of Catholic theologians have refused to affirm clearly what the Holy Spirit has been teaching the Church about Mary for the past millennium and have preferred instead the route of compromise and minimalism. One need only consult “agreed statements” like Mary in the New Testament (34), The One Mediator, The Saints, and Mary (35), the much-touted declaration of the Dombes Group (36) and the ARCIC agreed statement on Mary of 2005 (37). Catholic pastors with the rarest of exceptions have also maintained an almost total silence about this matter and, indeed, at this stage many are genuinely ignorant of the Church’s millennial tradition.
But as Our Lady repeatedly stressed to Ida: now is the time to act. If God has made Mary the greatest and most perfect creature possible and has given her a totally unique role in the work of redemption – always subordinate to the God-man and dependent upon him – can we legitimately deny this or remain silent about it? Jesus is at the very center of our faith and Mary stands next to him. No, she is not the center of our faith, but she stands next to the center. She is inseparable from Jesus, united to him by an indissoluble bond and likewise united to the Church by an indissoluble bond. This is what the revelations of Our Lady of All Nations insist on, but this is not a new doctrine; it is the perennial teaching of the Church, now unfortunately all too often unknown, misunderstood or obscured. We must make this doctrine known, humbly, but joyfully. We must pray and sacrifice so that the definition requested by Our Lady comes about. I believe that we must accept the words spoken to “Rome” as also addressed to ourselves:
Rome, do you know, how completely everything is being undermined? The years will speed by unheeded, but the longer you wait, the more the Faith will decline; the greater the number of years, the greater the apostasy (38).
The Lord asks our collaboration, just as he asked for Mary’s. On this depends the “Triumph of her Immaculate Heart” (39) prophesied by Our Lady at Fatima and the Lord has chosen to make this triumph the key to the Reign of the Most Sacred Heart of his Son.
Praised be the Hearts of Jesus and Mary!
Msgr. Calkins gave the preceding paper on May 31, 2008, at a Mariological conference on coredemption in Amsterdam, Netherlands.
(1) Redemptoris Mater #11, 47. Emphasis my own.
(2) Cf. A Handbook on Guadalupe (Kenosha, WI: Franciscan Marytown Press, 1974) 113-115.
(3) Cited in Francis Johnston, The Wonder of Guadalupe (Rockford, IL: Tan Books and Publishers, Inc., 1981) 47-48. Emphasis my own. Cf. also The Dark Virgin: The Book of Our Lady of Guadalupe – A Documentary Anthology edited by Donald Demarest & Coley Taylor (Coley Taylor, Inc. / Publishers, 1956) 26-28; A Handbook on Guadalupe 107-112; Thomas Mary Sennott, Acheiropoeta: Not Made by Hands (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 1998) 27.
(4) Joseph I. Dirvin, C.M., Saint Catherine Labouré of the Miraculous Medal (NY: Farrar, Straus and Cudahy, 1958) 97.
(5) Louis Kondor, S.V.D. (Ed.), Fatima in Lucia’s Own Words trans. Dominican Nuns of Perpetual Rosary (Fatima: Postulation Centre, 1976), Fourth Memoir, 162. Emphasis my own.
(6) The Messages of The Lady of All Nations (Santa Barbara, CA: Queenship Publishing Co., 1996) (= Messages followed by date, then page number in parenthesis) January 3, 1946 (8).
(7) Messages December 16, 1949 (24).
(8) Messages August 15, 1950 (30-31). Emphasis my own.
(9) Messages February 11, 1951 (39).
(10) Messages March 28, 1951 (44-45). Emphasis on “like a serpent …” my own.
(11) Messages April 29, 1951 (49-51).
(12) Messages August 15, 1951 (54).
(13) Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II XVIII/2 (1995) 1369 (Pope John Paul II, Theotókos – Woman, Mother, Disciple: A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000) 51).
(14) Teiji Yasuda, O.M.V., Akita: The Tears and Message of Mary trans. John M. Haffert (Asbury, NJ: 101 Foundation, 1989) 78. These words are also quoted by Bishop John S. Ito in his pastoral letter of April 22, 1984, in which he authorized the veneration of the Holy Mother of Akita, cf. 196.
(15) Messages August 15, 1951 (56).
(16) Cf. Lumen Gentium #60, 62.
(17) Insegnamenti di Benedetto XVI III/1 (2007) 820-821 (L’Osservatore Romano, weekly edition in English (= ORE). First number = cumulative edition number; second number = page) 1829:3. Emphasis my own except for Immaculate Conception, Tota Pulchra and “Be holy, as I am holy” (Lev. 11:44).
(18) Omer Englebert, Catherine Labouré and the Modern Apparitions of Our Lady trans. Alastair Guinan (NY: P. J. Kenedy & Sons, 1959) 34-35.
(19) Kondor Third Memoir, 107. Italics my own.
(20) Kondor Third Memoir, 111-112. Italics my own.
(21) Messages May 31, 1951 (52).
(22) Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II XX/1 (1997) 621-622 (Pope John Paul II, Theotókos – Woman, Mother, Disciple: A Catechesis on Mary, Mother of God (Boston: Pauline Books and Media, 2000) 185-186).
(23) Messages July 2, 1951 (54).
(24) Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II VIII/1 (1985) 321 (ORE 876:7).
(25) These texts in John’s gospel all refer to the Greek word Parakletos which is sometimes left in the Greek form “Paraclete” and variously translated as “Counselor” and “Advocate.” It refers to one who intercedes and pleads the cause of another.
(26) Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II II/1 (1979) 1034 (ORE 580:1); Inseg II/2 (1979) 816, 818 (ORE 610:3); Inseg VI/2 (1983) 558.
(27) St. Alphonsus Maria de’ Liguori, The Glories of Mary, Part I trans. Charles G. Fehrenbach, C.SS.R. et al. (Baltimore: Helicon Press, 1962) 113 (Opere Ascetiche di S. Alfonso M. De Liguori Vol. VI (Rome, 1936) 205-206).
(28) Cf. Lumen Gentium #62.
(29) Redemptoris Mater #21.
(30) Messages May 31, 1955 (87).
(31) Acta Apostolicæ Sedis 20 (1928) 178 (Our Lady: Papal Teachings) trans. Daughters of St. Paul (Boston: St. Paul Editions, 1961) #287.
(32) Cf. Arthur Burton Calkins, “Maria Reparatrix: Tradition, Magisterium, Liturgy” in Mary at the Foot of the Cross – III: Maria, Mater Unitatis. Acts of the Third International Symposium on Marian Coredemption (New Bedford, MA: Academy of the Immaculate, 2003) 223-258.
(33) Lumen Gentium #65.
(34) Raymond E. Brown, Karl P. Donfried, Joseph A. Fitzmyer, and John Reumann (eds.), Mary in the New Testament: A Collaborative Assessment by Protestant and Roman Catholic Scholars (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA – Paulist Press, New York, N.Y.,1978).
(35) H. George Anderson, J. Francis Stafford, Joseph A. Burgess (eds.), The One Mediator, The Saints, and Mary: Lutherans and Catholics in Dialogue VIII (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1992).
(36) Alain Blancy and Maurice Jourjon and the Dombes Group, Mary in the Plan of God and in the Communion of Saints trans. Matthew J. O’Connell (NY: Paulist Press, 2002).
(37) The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, Mary, Grace and Hope in Christ: An Agreed Statement (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing, 2005).
(38) Messages August 15, 1951 (56).
(39) Cf. Kondor Fourth Memoir, 162.